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Sharing in Science

Karen Louis, Lisa Jones, Eric Campbell

The Consequences of Prepublication Sharing

What happens when scientists share their pre-publication results? Most of what we know to date consists of urban legends, most of which focus on "scooping" or losing scientific priority. Our survey shows that geneticists who have shared research information before publication report both positive and negative outcomes. For example, more than 52 percent indicated that sharing had led to collaboration and new publications, 41 percent said that it permitted them to perform research that would otherwise have been impossible, and 38 percent wrote new grants as a consequence. In contrast, 35 percent report being "scooped," 15 percent reported that a student's work had been compromised, and 15 percent indicated that they were impeded in efforts to commercialize their research.

Geneticists with industry relationships were more likely to experience both positive and negative consequences of sharing. To give some examples, 28 percent of those with no industry relationships reported being "scooped" contrasted with 40 percent of those with personal-gain relationships, whereas 2 percent of the former said that they were unable to commercialize their research compared with 7 percent of the latter. On the other hand, 41 percent of those with personal-gain relationships reported that sharing permitted them to perform research that would otherwise have been impossible, compared to 31 percent of those with no industry relationships, and 60 percent of the personal gain group said that sharing led to publications, compared with 43 percent of the no-industry relations group.

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